Anyone who has been following Microsoft product development for the last year or so will be familiar with the Metro design language that Microsoft is applying everywhere.
Although it appears that a Metroesque philosophy has been around for a while, the grammar and vocabulary of Metro was really created starting with Windows Phone 7.
The core principles of Metro are:
- Light & Simple
- Content not Chrome
Perhaps the most visible of these principles is the Content not Chrome one. It is this that has given us the striking coloured tiles that we have become familiar with. All the previous rounded corners, gradients and drop-shadows are disappearing from the UI. These are all non-functional visual luxuries that have no place in the touch-centric, multi-device era that we are entering. Of course, Metro is much more than just coloured tiles! The other aspects of the Metro design language are worth exploring if you have the time.
If you have installed the Windows 8 Release Preview or the Office 2013 Customer Preview you may have noticed the Content not Chrome move. In Windows 8, Aero is no more and the controversial Windows Start Screen rules the roost.
It is striking when you compare a Word 2010 window beside a Word 2013 window.
Perhaps at this stage you are wondering about the title of this blog post. It seems the Metro word is to be dropped due to some threatened litigation by a German company with Metro in their name. Microsofties have been instructed to not use the word and are struggling to come up with attractive alternatives.
This is most unfortunate as, with Metro, Microsoft had achieved that almost impossible to do if you actually try thing of where a single word successfully captured the entire design philosophy of the company’s next wave of products. Everyone in Microsoft used the word. Everyone who knows Microsoft knew what the word stood for. I’m pretty sure that this was not by design – it was most likely luck.
Hopefully, someone at Microsoft will see sense and get Legal to point out to the German company the many many uses of the word Metro in products and services around the world. It’s too valuable to throw away without putting up some sort of a fight.